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                          Patty’s New Job

        It is awfully hot for late September.  They can see her through the steamy mist, out on the baseball field, which is being re-sodded.  The tanned nude, shiny with sweat, scampers up the pile of sod with flexible bare feet to pull another grassy slab off the top and fling it down to where the rest of the crew, sweating just as much in their cover-all uniforms and heavy work boots, drag it into place and tamp it down with their rakes.

        They were hoping she’d be on shift now, her old high school buddies.  They caught her attention and waved at her while eating their lunch, sitting in the shady portico outside the cafeteria, between their classes at the Rhode Island Institute of Technology.

        The foreman, barely seen at the far end, whistles.  Break time -- and now their old friend, breasts bouncing, trots toward them.  Sam has a bottle of water ready and throws it to her as she gets near.

        “Thanks,” she says, and takes a sip.  There is hardly any breeze, and the odor of her sweat takes over and in this heat is almost suffocating.  Her body is now deeply tanned and is even darker with the accumulated dirt of four hours flinging sod.  It makes her bright green eyes all the more striking.  Her encrusted hair is as wild as a witch’s.  She stands before them, taking gulp after gulp, and they can see her concave tummy rippling.  Her pubic hair is caked with topsoil dust.  Below, her dirty bare feet contrast with their neat shoes, the rough soiled toenails contrasting with the meticulously painted, recently-pedicured toes of Sandy in her strappy sandals.

        “Wow,” Patty Kowalski says, “look at all of you here.  What are the odds?”  She looks around, wary of putting her sweaty bare butt into one of the clean plastic chairs.

         “Go ahead,” Tom says, pushing one in her direction.  She slides her slimy self into it and pulls up next to them.

        “How’s it going?” Georgina says, wiping the salad dressing from her mouth, leaning an elbow on her Criminal Justice textbook.  It being so hot, she is dressed very sparely, a white tank top and knee-length shorts and sneakers.  Under her tank top, her white bra can be seen.

        Patty’s breasts wiggle as she pulls the chair up closer to the table.  “Okay.  The guys are nice.  I’m making one and a half minimum.”  She clears her throat and refuses Jill’s offer of a buttered roll.  “If I eat, it slows me down. . . If I stay six months here, I get to be in the union.  Benefits for the kids, better than that crummy Medicaid.”

        Some sweat falls into her eye and Georgina quickly offers her a napkin.  “Thanks.”  The napkin is now full of grime and, not wanting to put it on anyone’s tray, Patty hops up over to the wastebasket.

        Sam is dressed in a denim shirt with jeans and loafers.  He has a laptop sitting on top of his Architectural Design book.  “Think you’ll do that?  Stay that long?”  He’s a perpetual sloucher and now sits up in his chair.

        “Whoops.”  Patty’s slimy butt slips in the chair again and she sits up too, bracing her gritty soles against the concrete deck below.  Some of them unconsciously draw back as her body odor hits them more directly.  “Maybe.”

        “What about when winter comes, those videos with the Japanese folks?”  This is Terrence, a well-coiffed black student who has been waiting to be introduced.

        “Sorry, Patty, this is Terrence, he’s a fan of yours.”

        Patty extends a hand to him but, seeing how dirty it is, pulls it back and waves instead.

        “Another of an audience of thousands.”  Patty’s teeth look very white as they smile through her darkened face.  There’s a gap where she cracked a bicuspid, catching Robbie when he fell off that swing set.

        “I’ve seen your -- productions,” Terrence says.  “All four of them.”

        “You should buy them, you shouldn’t pull them up online,” Maurice says.

        “That’s o.k.,” Patty says.  “All those businessmen in Tokyo, or wherever, they paid the bills.”  Another gulp of water.  “And then some.”  She looks over at Kenny.  “How’s Jerry?”

        Kenny, in a T-shirt and sweatpants and Chuck Taylors, sips from his apple juice before answering.  “Still looking.”

        “That’s such a shame about Teaser’s,” Delores says.

        “Yes,” Patty says.  Heads nod.  Kenny’s uncle had been the bartender there.  Though they all know shutting the place down was a bigger blow to Patty, financially.  Who knew that Candi was only 17?  Patty said she looked mid-20’s, probably because she had been a junkie -- “she’s had a hard life”.  Candi got caught by her juvenile probation officer, and it was in all the press, with Gamal in handcuffs.  Every club in the state, aware that they might be the next victim of false ID’s, promptly raised the minimum age of dancers to 21.  Which left Patty without a place to dance for the next two and a half years.  Massachusetts was already at 21, and as for Connecticut, the nearest club was in Hartford, 80 miles away.

        “I hear when winter comes,” Terrence says, “they’ll do things with you in the snow.  The weird things the Japanese think up!”

        Patty shrugs, as she decides to accept a cherry tomato from Georgina.  “I don’t know if that’s going to happen.  I haven’t heard from them in a month.”  She looks through the sliding glass doors at the indoor part of the cafeteria.  The students there are glancing in her direction, in a way they probably think is discreet.  “Sometimes a producer makes his fortune and disappears,” she says quietly.

        Terrence says, “How can you stay out in the snow?”

        “Patty can do it!” Tom says, to the nodding of heads.  They remember last winter, half the town passing by Patty on Saturday afternoons, waving at her as she did her job shoveling snow in front of St. Anselm’s while Jimmy and Kathleen and Robbie were inside at catechism class.

        Terrence is enthusiastic and comes around with his cell phone.  Patty’s old friends roll their eyes tolerantly.  “Tell me about this one . . . did you really sit on that rope?  With all your weight?”  It’s the one where her two co-stars, Jin and the much-loved Takeru, are grabbing a rope coming down from pulleys in the ceiling and sliding it under the naked girl’s crotch.  From the angle of the rope it seems she is being frictioned from her clit in front to her butthole in the back.  Her toes are stretching down searchingly but clearly not touching the floor.

        “Yes I did.  It hurt but just a little.  See,” she moves over to point at the little screen, “my elbows are tied back to that post which stabilized me.  They only moved the rope back and forth an inch or two.”

        “It looked more like a foot or two, the way they heaved it back and forth.”

        “It’s a trick.”

        Terrence’s brow furrows.  “Why are the men wearing overcoats?”

        “Because it was f-r-e-e-z-i-n-g in that studio.  Everybody was all bundled up.  Except me, of course.”

        “And the one where you’re being -- experimented on with those guys in lab coats.  I counted thirteen, um . . .”

        Patty smiles, again with the gleaming white teeth.  “Yes, they were real.”  She shakes her head, as if trying not to be offended.

        Sioban clears her throat, as if not wanting to bring up something, but feeling it’s more polite than awkward to do so.  “How’s Robbie?”

        Patty exhales deeply, then brushes back her hair.  This causes some flecks of dirt to fall in Sandy’s direction.  “Oh -- I’m sorry . . . I’ve got to get him out of that school.”  Her littlest brother, never a good student, was recently diagnosed with autism and transferred out.  “I’m trying to set up a meeting with the Principal there.  She said she would call me.”  Patty’s cell phone is in the sod truck; she gives a quick glance back.

        “That school has a good reputation,” Maurice offers.

        “Yes I know, and I’m glad it’s paid for.  But he’ll never get out of that place.  They’re all lower functioning than he is.  Robbie’s a smart little boy.  He just needs focus.  Plus, the place is all the way over in East Prov!”  She exhales again.  “At least the bus brings him home on time.”

        They sit in silence, Patty finishing the water bottle, everyone else picking at their food.  There is some uneasy throat clearing.  Patty’s body odor is really disgusting and is ruining everyone’s appetite.

        Terrence lightens the mood the only way he knows how.  “How about this?” he says, pointing at the little browser window.  “Did those huge things really slide into your butt?  You have a magic butt in general!”

        “Yeah,” Patty says, looking at the image.  “They love doing things to my butthole, and further up.  It’s in demand over there, I suppose. . . No, that’s another trick.  If you look carefully it’s not really going in.  Yes there is a dildo in me, to keep the big one in line, but it’s only the size of” -- she looks around and points to Tom’s plate -- “that.”  She’s pointing to a hot dog, which Tom is now even less interested in eating than a minute ago.

        “And” --

        “Come on Terrence!” Tom says, followed by Jill and Sandy.

        “One more thing - just one more.  How did you get stretched out that way?  It looks really painful.”

        “Another trick.  Those are rubber nips.”  Patty, as if to finally make Terrence happy, turns to him.  “Go ahead, pull my nips.  They don’t look like that when they’re actually stretched.”  He hesitates but she is insistent.  “Go ahead!”

        This is not the first time she’s done this demonstration.  Terrance gingerly reaches with both hands and gently grasps.  He pulls a little but Patty’s nipples are so slick with sweat that they slip out.  He tries harder.  “More.  Go ahead. . . More!”  His fingers slip again; he dries them off with a napkin which now has dirt stains on it.  One more pull, as he pinches her nipples a little harder, is all he dares do.  “See?  That’s how real nipples stretch.  The ones you saw, are just rubber.”

        “Satisfied now??” Georgina says, as Terrence sits down, a little contrite at having been so pushy.  “Thanks.”

        “Speaking of Japan,” Patty says, looking at Jill, “how was your trip?”

        Jill wasn’t going to talk about it but now she has to.  “It was a clean place, and the people were very polite,” she squeaks out.

        “Show me pictures.”

        “Okay.”  She comes around and holds the phone in her extended hands, standing back, either to avoid Patty’s odor, or to avoid touching her friend’s dirty, sweaty body.  “This is Osaka, and here’s Tokyo.  We were there for two weeks.”

        “That’s a lot of people coming out of that train.”

        “They don’t mind being packed in real tight.”  No one mentions it, but they all imagine that some of those men in business suits might be fans of Patty’s “work”.

        “Wow.”  Patty’s sense of wonder at faraway places is familiar to them.  They think of when she might finally get to start classes at Brown University.  They don’t know anyone else who got accepted into an Ivy League school.  But even though she’s been offered a full scholarship, she’s had to put it on “hold”, for obvious reasons.  Maybe next year.  They know that she’s been hoping to get a callback to model at RISD, which would be good money.  Then there was that rich guy who wanted to give her $1000 a day for doing what she already does, stay naked all the time, and sending him daily pictures.  But, as Patty put it, he “wanted other stuff too”.

        Tom clears his throat.  It’s time to get back to classes.  “It’s been great to see you again Patty!”

        “Yes”, “yes”, “yes”, “really great”, “for sure!”

        Maurice says with a sly smile, “I have a surprise.”  He reaches into his pocket and holds up a ping-pong ball.  Everyone laughs with recognition.  He holds it up to Patty.  “Please?  For old times’ sake?”

        Patty now has that big lopsided grin they remember so well.  “I’m out of practice.”


        She strides out into the hot sun, her hard heels thudding on the rough concrete.  They follow.  It’s not exactly the yard at Corliss High School, where she used to hold court, but it’s her old fan club and she is eager to perform.  She plants her butt cheeks onto the concrete and spreads her legs wide, anchoring her toes on the bristly brown grass below, inhales, and inserts.  “Wait . . . wrong angle . . . help me!”  Maurice and Georgina come forward and each grabs a bare, gritty foot in one hand, and raises it until Patty’s pelvis is elevated just so.  One last time, Patty is in control.  With a loud grunt she pops the ball out and it flies at a 45-degree angle (the best angle for maximum distance) and drops silently ten feet away.  Loud cheers and a bow.

        The foreman’s whistle blows in the distance.  Break is over.

        “Bye guys!”  After her big wave she trots away from them.  They watch as she slows down in the distance and then partly hops and partly climbs onto the top of the stacked sod.  She stands upright, clutching the unsteady grass with her toes, as if claiming ownership of the hill, and waves again.  Then gets back to hefting the slabs off the truck and twirling them to the ground, breasts bouncing.  The sun has burned some of the mist away and they see it glinting against her sweaty bare body, as if dancing around a pole.

        Her old friends start taking up their trays.  As they retreat to the big hallway they briefly chat about the informal class reunion next week.  So far twenty-three have signed up, to say hi again and share stories about college life.  Without anyone saying anything, nobody has told Patty.  It’s in Boston and she wouldn’t be able to get away.  Plus, it would be a little awkward.


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